As some of us found out from social media and the Club programme against Forest Green (and nearly a week later from the Local News Provider) the council have given the go ahead for 160 flats to be developed by the club after months of stagnation, writes Rob Richardson.
This stagnation can be taken as something from both sides in what is a war between the club’s board and North Lincolnshire Council. There has been friction and threats since the club’s wishes to build a completely new stadium as part of the Lakes Project and there has been an issue for about four years.
The result is the club wishing to redevelop the existing ground and looking at the plans of the ground redevelopment there are many similarities to the proposed Lakes stadium first mooted. Similar looks and construction would no doubt attract similar costs, which ranged initially from £18m so no small sums involved with all of this.
The club’s fortunes have taken a nose dive since 2016 with us slipping into the basement league and even worse, flirting with the wrong end of it. We have justified the nametag of being a sacking club by losing four permanent managers in the same number of years and seem to be semi rudderless now. With added confusion emanating from the boardroom and dugout alike as to our way forward on and off the pitch, football wise it is a trying time for the club and its fans.
It is likely, given that the ground improvements have been approved for some time but no works commencing, that the 160 apartments may need to be built and sold first in order for the funds to be available to do the ground improvements.
As such we will likely see a spade in the ground come early May but we may get surprised and the two projects run side by side on the prospects of the sales. The cost to build an apartment versus what they would realise on the open market could net most of the costs to do the ground improvements.
So, the apartments would be the cash cow topped up with the deals the chairman has secured with the NHS and then revenue from the new facilities at The Sands Venue. Given the club’s losses over the past handful of years and the millions lost in the Lakes escapade we can see how the monies could be used to press a reset button with the club’s finances but all you need to ask yourself is: Will the flats realise their potential next to a budget tin shed?
There is a third way and that is to do a lower level refurbishment of the ground – one commensurate with the historical gate figures and demographics. That would depend on what realistic ambitions the club should have. Traditionally, since I started watching The Iron in the early 70s, we have been basement league with an occasional flirt above and the giddy heights of the second tier in the noughties. Our chairman at the time was berated (including by myself) for bottling it, but in hindsight the correct decisions were made and a correction ensued.
We are seeing a similar situation now when recent profligacy has been or is being corrected and through experience the club has to change its player recruitment policy.
The U23’s is THE best decision our chairman has made and will be a feeder for many a good player if maintained. A clear-out of high wage earners and unproductive players will reach a pinnacle at the end of this season with massive options to start afresh with players who put the club and not their wallets first.
Let’s sit back and see if the situations on and off the pitch come to fruition. Allow the chairman to show us the proof of the pudding. There is no Plan B.